Damian Lillard is taking the stage in a major way this postseason. The second-year point guard hit the biggest shot of his NBA career thus far to give Portland a one-point lead as the final horn sounded, ending the series in six games on Portland’s homecourt.
The Portland Trail Blazers started the evening off hot, jumping out to a 7-0 lead by the 10:20 mark of the first quarter.
The Rockets responded with a 7-0 run of its own, started by a James Harden three. Harden had his best game of the series in the loss, scoring 34 points on an efficient 9-of-15 from the floor and 12-of-12 from the line.
Lillard had 11 points in the first quarter and LaMarcus Aldridge had 10 on 3-of-8 shooting in the period. Dwight Howard played 11 minutes in the period without picking up a foul, but Omer Asik had two in the period, which left Howard to play the majority of the second quarter.
Chandler Parsons was very effective in the first half with 14 points on 6-of-12 shooting. Parsons disappeared in the second half, however, scoring just two points and attempting just three field goals. Considering Parsons came into this game averaging over 20 points per game for the series, Houston certainly could have used the expected production from its starting small forward.
The Rockets started the third quarter on an 8-2 run to take an eight point lead and force a Blazer timeout. But Dwight Howard picked up his fourth foul mid-way through the quarter, and then Omer Asik went on to pick up his fourth late in the quarter because he was too exhausted to jump or move his feet. The Rockets were plus-16 with Asik on the court, though it was partly a product of Harden taking more initiative at times.
As expected, Asik’s defensive abilities played a large role in this series, and it has to be wondered if the Rockets might not have benefitted from the Twin Towers lineup being used a bit more before the playoffs. It was discarded early in the season and this series showed that it is clearly a lineup that can work against big teams like Portland.
The Rockets went small most of the fourth quarter, with a lineup of Parsons, Patrick Beverley, Harden, Jeremy Lin and Howard. It eventually became a mirrored offense of what the Orlando Magic did with Howard, as the ball was pounded inside to No. 12 and he did his best to will the Rockets to victory. Howard had 12 straight Rockets points and 13 in the period.
A critical moment occurred with 48 seconds to go when Omer Asik fouled out on a loose ball foul, causing a Jeremy Lin three to be waived off. Had the basket counted, the Rockets would have led by five. Batum answered back with a shot to tie the game at 96.
James Harden isolated from the top of the key for Houston’s final shot, and missed. But the wayward rebound found its way into the hands of Chandler Parsons, who flipped in his only field goal of the half. The Rockets led by two with under a second to go, 0.9.
Then, came Lillard. Damian Lillard had already connected on five triples on the evening, and the Blazers ran a side out-of-bounds play that saw Lillard curl along the arc towards the top of the key. It was easy to see he had Parsons beat on the play and was going to get a very good look at the basket. Harden could have made a switch and possibly contested the look better, but Parsons was left trailing coming off the screen…
With his feet about two feet behind the line, Lillard faded back and launched it over the late-coming hand of Parsons. It splashed through the net as the horn sounded and the Blazers will be advancing to the second round.
|Chandler Parsons, SF||42||7-17||2-4||0-0||3||9||12||3||0||0||1||1||+7||16|
|Dwight Howard, C||40||10-18||0-0||6-11||5||6||11||3||1||2||3||4||-2||26|
|Omer Asik, C||33||1-2||0-0||2-2||3||4||7||1||2||1||2||6||+16||4|
|Patrick Beverley, PG||23||1-4||0-1||0-0||1||3||4||3||0||0||1||2||-1||2|
|James Harden, SG||42||9-15||4-6||12-12||0||4||4||6||4||0||4||3||+7||34|
|Terrence Jones, PF||18||2-4||0-0||1-2||2||3||5||0||1||0||1||2||-16||5|
|Jeremy Lin, PG||32||4-13||1-6||2-4||0||1||1||3||0||0||3||1||-3||11|
|Troy Daniels, SG||9||0-2||0-2||0-0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||1||-13||0|
|Josh Powell, PF||DNP COACH’S DECISION|
|Donatas Motiejunas, PF||DNP COACH’S DECISION|
|Jordan Hamilton, SF||DNP COACH’S DECISION|
|Omri Casspi, SF||DNP COACH’S DECISION|
|Francisco Garcia, SG||DNP COACH’S DECISION|
Fast break points: 18
Points in the paint: 46
Total Team Turnovers (Points off turnovers): 17 (20)
|LaMarcus Aldridge, PF||40||10-26||0-0||10-10||4||9||13||2||0||0||1||4||-3||30|
|Nicolas Batum, SF||40||4-10||1-6||0-0||1||1||2||7||2||1||2||4||+3||9|
|Robin Lopez, C||39||5-10||0-0||2-2||4||3||7||0||2||4||0||3||-9||12|
|Damian Lillard, PG||43||8-14||6-10||3-3||1||5||6||3||3||1||4||2||+2||25|
|Wesley Matthews, SG||40||4-13||2-8||2-4||1||2||3||0||1||0||3||4||+3||12|
|Thomas Robinson, PF||16||3-5||0-0||2-2||1||2||3||1||1||0||0||0||+5||8|
|Dorell Wright, SF||1||0-1||0-0||0-0||0||0||0||0||0||0||1||0||-3||0|
|Mo Williams, PG||21||1-3||0-0||1-1||0||0||0||1||0||0||1||3||+7||3|
|Meyers Leonard, C||DNP COACH’S DECISION|
|Joel Freeland, C||DNP COACH’S DECISION|
|Earl Watson, PG||DNP COACH’S DECISION|
|C.J. McCollum, SG||DNP COACH’S DECISION|
|Will Barton, SG||DNP COACH’S DECISION|
Fast break points: 13
Points in the paint: 32
Total Team Turnovers (Points off turnovers): 12 (14)